Gurugram court summons Alibaba, Jack Ma over fake news allegations

A former employee alleged they spread false news "to cause social and political turmoil" in India.

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Jack Ma is amongst a dozen individuals summoned by the district court in Gurugram.

A Gurugram district court has summoned tech giant, Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma, in a case where a former employee said he was wrongfully sacked after he objected to censorship and fake news on the company’s apps.

Pushpandra Singh Parmar, a former employee of Alibaba’s UC Web, alleged that UC Web used to censor content seen as unfavourable to China and its apps UC Browser and UC News spread false news “to cause social and political turmoil” in India.

Civil Judge Sonia Sheokand of district court in Gurugram has issued summons for Alibaba, Jack Ma and about a dozen individuals or company units. They are required to appear in court or through a lawyer on July 29.

The court has also sought written responses from the company and its executives within 30 days, as per the summons.

UC India, in a statement, said they had been “unwavering in its commitment to the India market and the welfare of its local employees, and its policies are in compliance with local laws.”

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India had banned 59 Chinese apps citing national security concerns.

Parmad had worked at the UC Web office in Gurugram till October, 2017. In the court filings, he included clippings of some posts showcased on the UC News app that he alleged were false.

One post from 2017 was headlined in Hindi: “2,000-rupee notes to be banned from midnight today”. Another headline of a 2018 post said: “Just now: War broke out between India and Pakistan” with description of firing across the border between the countries. Neither events took place.

The summons comes weeks after India banned 59 Chinese apps citing national security reasons, and Chinese aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

Before it had been banned by the Indian government, UC Browser had been downloaded over 600 million times in India.

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